27 Aug – Memorial for Saint Monica
Raised in a Christian family, she was given in marriage to a bad-tempered, adulterous pagan named Patricius. Mother of two, one of whom is Saint Augustine of Hippo whose writings about her are the primary source of our information about Monica. She prayed constantly for the conversion of her husband (who converted on his death bed), and of her son (who converted after a wild life). Spiritual student of Saint Ambrose of Milan. Reformed alcoholic.
- Patron Saint Index
1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Straining out gnats and swallowing camels!
The Pharisees and scribes in Jesus’ time had a long list of rituals and observances that they would religiously carry out to the minutest detail. This included going to the extent of straining their wine with a wine cloth so as to avoid accidental consumption of a gnat, a very small insect considered impure according to their customs. But Jesus said in today’s gospel that in doing so, they are swallowing a camel, also considered an impure creature. They have only purified themselves externally but not internally. They probably also went a little overboard with the number of rules and regulations they gave themselves. With so many of them to abide by and carry out, it is easy to let that commitment become a priority over God.
In our church today, we do have our fair share of rules and observances, but our problem on the surface is not quite the same as that of the Pharisees and scribes. I think I would not be wrong in saying that quite a lot of us are not very committed in observing the rules, regulations and teachings of the church, and might even question their purpose and necessity. We may not be as “fake” as the Pharisees and scribes, but we are similarly lacking in true obedience to God. Our resistance to the teachings of the Church is reflective of our subjection to the worldly ways of thinking, where obedience to authority is something to be derided, and where the desires of the self triumphs any external moral truth.
I have always felt that if we profess ourselves as Catholics, we have the responsibility to obey the teachings of the church. Even if they are the sole voice of opposition (or reason) in this age where relativism is the new norm, it does not mean the teachings are the problem. Rather, it speaks on a lack of effort on our part to learn and appreciate the theology behind those teachings.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Edith Koh)
Prayer: We pray that our minds will be freed from the chains of relativistic thinking, and that we will emulate Mother Mary’s virtue of obedience.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, dearest Father, for giving us the deposit of faith in our church.